Renaissance Books

National Curriculum Science Area: History 

Key Stage: Post-16 and A-level

Length of session: 1–2 hours

Maximum group size: 25–50 students

This session takes the form of a seminar in which students have the opportunity to explore a range of early books from the Museum’s collection. These illustrate the proliferation of printed material and its influence on the shaping of knowledge during the Renaissance. In particular, the session will explore the influence of mechanical printing on the expanding fields of natural philosophy, medicine and anatomy, astronomy and mathematics, as well as other Renaissance practices such as astrology and natural magic.

The session underlines a number of Renaissance themes, including the influence of classical works from ancient Greece and Rome, and the development of capitalist economies.

One teacher said about their visit: 'it was both genuinely educational and very good in terms of deepening understanding of a wide range of issues for the exam – printing, capitalism, humanism, the critical appreciation of ancient texts and ideas, links between science and art, perspective, patronage, and the non-rational elements of Renaissance culture. The students very much enjoyed it. It brought the period very close to us in the way nothing else can. It was a fabulous visit.'


Discover one of the oldest printed globes in the world, made in 1534 by Johannes Schöner (1477–1547).